Test Results: High School Students Struggling With Math And Writing

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(Host) Vermont high school student are struggling with math and writing, according to the results of a statewide assessment released Wednesday. 

Test scores in the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, show that only half of eleventh graders are proficient in writing, and 38 percent of them are proficient in math.  In reading, the scores were higher – 72 percent of eleventh graders were considered proficient.

Rae Anne Knopf is the Deputy Commissioner of Education:

(Knopf) "One of the areas that we’re looking at is really thinking about, do the students understand the purpose of the test, are they able to take the test seriously and understand the implications of it. But the other area really gets into, what are we doing for students in math at the high school level? And are the courses that our students are taking , are  they really course they need to be at grade level mathematically by the time they are in the eleventh grade."

(Host) The NECAP test is also administered to elementary students in grades three through eight. Those students scored higher in all three subject areas than their high school counterparts, but the math and writing scores were also significantly lower than the reading scores.

In releasing the results this morning, the Vermont Department of Education emphasized a problem called the "achievement gap" – the trend of low-income students scoring worse than other kids on assessment exams. 

Knopf says the state wants to study the success of a few schools to find the right way to help low-income students:

(Knopf) "The key factors have to do with effective school leadership, professional teaching cultures that support high quality instruction, and high expectations of learning for all the students in the school regardless of their circumstances, and also that they have a really strong, safe supportive school climates and constructive relationships with families is a really key element."

(Host) The full results of the state’s NECAP exam are available here.

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